In data we trust? Quantifying the costs of adjudication in the EU Justice Scoreboard

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Affordable and timely judicial proceedings by independent courts are essential for an effective justice system. They are also a precondition for the protection of the rule of law in the EU and for an integrated Internal Market. Among the tools the European Commission adopts in this field, the EU Justice Scoreboard is key to understanding the empirical basis of the European judicial policies. Created in 2013, it provides annual data on efficiency, quality and independence of Member State’s courts.
The Scoreboard considers costly judicial proceedings as an obstacle to access to justice. It accordingly benchmarks Member States’ performance with various indicators. In the Commission’s view, different national legal traditions should not prevent comparative assessment of Member State judicial systems.
However, the idiosyncrasies of national systems and the heterogeneity of national judicial statistics inevitably affect this empirical monitoring exercise. A closer look into the Scoreboard data shows that adjudication costs cannot be evaluated through quantitative metrics without contextualisation.
This paper focuses on the Scoreboard data on judicial costs, from both the supply and demand side of judicial services. It critically reviews the fact-finding process that supports the preparation of the Scoreboard as well as the data this document displays. In so doing, it tests whether the Scoreboard conveys reliable and comparable information. This analysis is all the more important as the Scoreboard often supports academic analyses on the performance of justice and policy proposals by regulators and lawmakers.
Original languageEnglish
JournalErasmus Law Review
Issue number4
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2021


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